MASS. TAXPAYERS FOUNDATION: UNTIMELY ASSAULT ON MUNICIPAL HEALTH COSTS

MASS. TAXPAYERS FOUNDATION: UNTIMELY ASSAULT ON MUNICIPAL HEALTH COSTS

JANUARY 13, 2012: Yesterday, January 12th the Mass. Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) under its ubiquitous leader Michael Widmer unleashed an untimely attack on municipal health insurance costs.

A brief summary of the report was included in today’s Boston Globe, including a response by Shawn Duhamel, Legislative Liaison of our Association and Ed Kelly, President of the Professional Firefighters Union.

“This is a stab in the back!"

Jerry Miller, City of Pittsfield Retiree and PEC Representative

Last year, after major concessions by employee unions and our Association, health insurance reform, Chapter 69, was enacted by the Legislature and signed by Governor Patrick. Both the Governor and Legislature complemented employees and retirees for their willingness to cooperate with passing this measure. The Mass. Municipal Association, representing our cities and towns also recognized the importance of this reform.

Importantly, from the MMA viewpoint collective bargaining was largely removed from the health insurance negotiating process and the balance of power shifted strongly to the side of management.
Under those circumstances, over the past six months, a number of cities and towns have transferred their insurance coverage to the State Group Insurance Commission (GIC) and others have rewritten new cost-saving contracts.

Among the 10 cities targeted by the MTF missile were Lowell and Pittsfield. But what was unsaid was that Lowell is joining the GIC with a savings of $10 million and Pittsfield switched to the GIC three years ago with a thus-far savings of six million. Springfield and Lawrence were also targeted, but both are now with the GIC.

Bill Desrosiers who represents retiree on the Lowell Public Employee Committee (PEC) and Jerry Miller on the Pittsfield PEC were both “aghast” at the report.

“This is a stab in the back,” said Miller who was especially incensed. “It’s an insult to the Governor, Senate President and Speaker as well as the MMA and the retirees and unions,” he said. I just left Dan Bianci’s (Mayor) office and we have an excellent relationship. The MTF wasn’t involved in last year’s reform and became irrelevant. They’re trying to regain attention at any expense.

Please click here to read the MTF report in its entirety.

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